Long-time musician, software developer, but new to the production world.
I have some compositions that sound fantastic on great speakers and on good headsets, but sound like crap on PC speakers.
Yes, crappy speakers == crappy sound. However, these works sound much worse on crappy speakers than I would expect.
I assume there are tricks of the trade that professional mixers use to “fix” the sound so that it’s maybe not quite as dramatic on great speakers, but also not so horrible on crap speakers. When I listen to music on my PC, it isn’t horrible.
I’d like to open a discussion on some of these professional tricks, as well as general rules of thumb for producing nice, clean recordings.
The work I’d like to use for reference is a mixed instrumental/choral work, scored for SATB, strings, harp, and the real troublemakers: drums. Specifically, I have two bodhrans, a doumbek, a bass drum, and a tam.
There’s a drum solo/cadenza in the middle that is introduced with a big crescendo roll on the bass drum and a strike on the tam, while the harp continues a repetitive ostinato to hold the pitch. The bodhrans hold down a basic polyrhythm, and the doumbek does the going-nuts solo thing.
On good speakers, the sounds remain distinct and crisp, with good spatial separation, and volumes seem balanced. On cheap speakers, the drums bury everything, the interplay of the two bodhrans turns into a grumble, and the tam vanishes completely into the muddle. The harp is inaudible until it crescendos near the end.